Hello Saint Paulites,
As a Board Member of St. Paul Regional Water Services (SPRWS), I am pleased to share an update about progress being made to replace lead pipes throughout neighborhoods across the SPRWS service area. The removal of lead pipes is one of my top priorities as I finish my third and final term on the St. Paul City Council.
There are more than 26,000 lead pipes in neighborhoods spanning the SPRWS service area. These service connections connect the water main under the street to homes and businesses. Lead pipes were used into the 20th century in the United States as a less expensive and more durable pipe option which was conveniently bendable. To see if your home is serviced by a lead pipe, visit: stpaul.gov/water.
The EPA, CDC, and WHO all agree that there is no known safe level of lead in a child’s blood system. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to negatively affect a child’s intelligence, ability to pay attention and academic achievement by damaging a child’s brain and nervous system. Besides the health and societal benefits, lead pipe replacements will positively impact the racial inequities that currently exist within the water system.
LEAD FREE SPRWS is our water service’s program to remove all the lead pipes from St. Paul over the next 10 years at no cost to homeowners and creates good paying, barrier-free jobs. St. Paul is a leader in the upper Midwest to remove lead pipes, and we should feel proud of the dedicated staff working to supply all citizens with clean and safe drinking water.
St. Paul Regional Water Services is able to replace lead pipes using critical federal funding in project zones that will be updated yearly on SPRWS’s lead pipe map(bit.ly/3kBKJZj). When a home is eligible for a lead pipe replacement, SPRWS will proactively contact homeowners within project areas and walk property owners through the free replacement process. In 2022, more than 250 lead pipes were replaced in St. Paul, and planning is already underway for the 2023 construction season.
To ramp up the replacement of all the lead service lines, SPRWS is looking to fill 20 new water utility worker 1 positions this spring. These positions are good paying union jobs starting at $28.59/hour plus excellent benefits. If you know anyone who may be a good fit, please encourage them to apply at stpaul.gov/jobs.
I also want to acknowledge the leadership of SPRWS General Manager Pat Shea for his efforts to launch LEAD FREE SPRWS. Pat recently testified at the Minnesota Legislature in favor of HF 24, a bill that would increase lead pipe replacement funding for all Minnesotans. By 2033, I expect our goal to remove all lead pipes will be met, and that St. Paulites will have the confidence of lead-free water flowing from their kitchen faucets.
Christ Tolbert, St. Paul City Council